Texas Stuns No. 5 Nebraska
So much for kicking Texas one final time as Nebraska prepares to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten.
The Longhorns entered as a heavy underdog to the previously undefeated Cornhuskers (5-1, 1-1 Big 12), but made the necessary plays in all three phases of the game to leave much of the capacity crowd stunned. The day especially belonged to the Texas defense, which crowded the line of scrimmage and then dared Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez to pass the football.
That turned out to be genius as the Cornhuskers' one-dimensional approach under Martinez finally failed them, so much so that late in the third quarter with Texas (4-2, 2-1) ahead 20-3, coach Bo Pelini had to return to demoted senior quarterback Zac Lee to ignite the offense.
Lee did manage to move the ball to make it interesting at the end, and backup punt returner Eric Hagg made it most interesting when he took a 28-yard pooch punt on fake field goal by Texas late in the fourth and ran it back 95 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Huskers within 20-13 with 3:02 remaining in the game.
But the Longhorns survived when they foiled the onside kick and then with a short field, power back Cody Johnson made a couple big runs to seal the victory and upset.
Texas, which avoided a three-game losing streak with the win, now has a 9-1 edge over Nebraska in Big 12 play, and the Longhorns are 4-0 in Lincoln during that same time.
The Longhorns can credit a creative game plan that was aided by an extra week of preparation during the bye. Offensively, first-year quarterback Garrett Gilbert displayed an ability to pick up yardage with his legs that hadn't been there all season. Gilbert set the tone with his career-long 25-yard run on quarterback draw during the opening drive and he continued to gash Nebraska's stout defense from there.
The Longhorns quarterback ended up with 71 yards and a two touchdowns on 11 carries -- all career-highs -- to help his team to an impressive 209 yards of rushing. Gilbert, who is much more known as a pocket passer, completed just 4 of 16 passes for 62 yards on the day.
It was the Longhorns ability to move the ball on the ground and to play smart assignment football on defense that helped them open a 10-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the game.
Martinez, who has become accustomed to breaking long runs, was stymied by that assignment football in which defensive coordinator Will Muschamp always had a spy available to deliver a blow on every option run. Martinez finished the day with just 21 yards on the ground on 13 carries and his longest run from scrimmage was 14 yards.
The Cornhuskers improved offense did not manage a touchdown on the day, instead having to settle for two Alex Henery field goals.